Picking up where we left off on speedy trial rights in Texas, there is a 4 part balancing test, part 2 of that test is the reason for the delay.
What’s the law on Reason for Delay in Speedy Trial cases?
The State carries the burden of justifying its delay. See Cantu, 253 S.W.3d at 280. In
assessing the reason for the more-than-three-and-one-half-year delay described above, we are
instructed to assign different weights to different reasons. See Balderas v. State, 517 S.W.3d 756, 768 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016) (citing Dragoo, 96 S.W.3d at 314). “In the absence of an assigned reason for the delay, a court may presume neither a deliberate attempt on the part of the State to prejudice the defense nor a valid reason for the delay.” Id. Between diligent prosecution and badfaith delay is the middle ground of official negligence in bringing an accused to trial. Doggett v. U.S., 505 U.S. 647, 656–57 (1992). Such negligence is weighed more lightly than a deliberate intent to harm the accused’s defense. Id. at 657. Courts’ tolerance of such negligence “varies inversely with its protractedness and its consequent threat to the fairness of the accused’s trial.” Id.
So the State has to justify why the case was delayed. That’s fair, since the State controls the prosecution of a case and can choose when to file the case, or seek an indictment, and the Defendant has no way to move a case forward on his or her own. Reasons that a case can be delayed can be delayed include-
- Waiting on lab results- If a case involves blood or drug testing, that can take months or a year or more.
- Negligence- the police never send the file to the DA’s office. Or the prosecutor just forgets to work on a case and nothing happens. Or the information on a case is misentered into the database, so no one notices it.
- Follow up investigation- most cases are done being investigated when the arrest is made. However, some case requires more fieldwork and follow up interviews etc.
- Translation- We’ve had cases where a witness spoke in a language that didn’t have interpreters on hand and the State had to ask the FBI for help.
- Computer Forensics- Most smaller counties don’t have an expert who can handle computer forensic works, and so it’s outsourced to the Feds. Computers, cell phones, text messages etc all need to worked up by someone who knows what they are doing.